Hello! I am new to this forum and new to salt water aquariums and really would appreciate some urgent advice. It's a long story so please bear with me...
I have never had salt water fish and recently adopted my dad's tank that has been kept under strange conditions.
My dad had a 6 gallon Nano tank with some live rock and one Ocelleris for about 4 years since it was tiny. When I adopted her in November, she was very healthy and has grown very big. However she has been kept under strange conditions and I am not sure how to take care of her now...
The fish has lived in virtual darkness and without water changes for about 3 years... The lid is broken off so my dad covers it with a piece of cardboard and sometimes glass. After the first year, a flat dark green algea covered all sides of the tank so you could never see inside unless you looked through the top. My dad also NEVER cleaned the aquarium or did any water changes. All he did was top it off with filtered tap water using his Britta water filter and some water conditioner for the chloramines.
When I got her, I bought a new 8 gallon tank with working lights and clean new sand. I transferred all the same water, live rocks, and bio balls into the new tank so that she wouldn't be too shocked with so many changes. And I am also assuming that what she had was working since it is obviously cycling. I kept her water temp the same at around 79 F. Then I tested the water:
Ammonia: Low (lowest on the chart, Yellow)
Nitrate SUPER HIGH, Deep Red color on chart (160+)
Salinity is perfect
So now I am super confused...
I don't know how to take care of her because... she's obviously doing fine in the environment (She swims around and eats very well)... but has lived in very bad conditions for almost her whole life. Since my dad never made water changes, the nitrates must have been high for a very long time and I am not sure how she survived this as I hear it is very bad to have 160+ in a tank.
So what should I do? Should I start doing regular water changes to make sure all the levels are where they should be? Or could that possibly shock her? Because I'm afraid of drastically changing an environment she is possibly used to, I am currently doing the same thing my dad did: no light and no water changes... just topping it off.
I could really use some advice here. I want her to have a good life with me.
Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks for reading this whole thing and Happy New Year.